Jay Wright Retires as Villanova HC After 21 Seasons; Kyle Neptune Named Replacement

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 20, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 02: ead coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats looks on in the first half of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal at Caesars Superdome on April 02, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

One of the most prominent figures in all of college basketball is retiring this offseason.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright announced his retirement Wednesday:

Jay Wright @VUCoachJWright

<a href="https://t.co/XT7HPRxE5n">pic.twitter.com/XT7HPRxE5n</a>

Villanova MBB @NovaMBB

After 21 seasons as the leader of Villanova Men’s Basketball, Coach Wright announces his retirement.<br> <br>Thank you, Coach, for everything you have done for our University, community &amp; the game of basketball.<br> <br>We are thrilled that you will continue to be a part of the VU community. <a href="https://t.co/HGjitFaOUm">pic.twitter.com/HGjitFaOUm</a>

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium previously reported Wright was "likely retiring," which "means a succession plan is in order for the university." Charania noted the 60-year-old coach took his family into account when making the decision:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources say Jay Wright’s decision to retire after 21 legendary seasons as Villanova head coach is based largely to wanting to spend more time with his family, including his wife Patty and three children. <a href="https://t.co/0A1iWPNSTC">https://t.co/0A1iWPNSTC</a>

Wright has been on the sidelines for Villanova since the 2001-02 season and has led the program to two NCAA championships (2016 and 2018).

It appears television, and not the NBA, is in his future:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

There's been significant NBA interest in Jay Wright through the years, but sources tell ESPN that his intention is to retire from coaching --- not only Villanova. Those who've talked to Wright don't believe the NBA holds appeal to him -- not now, or in future.

Andy Katz @TheAndyKatz

Been told by a former staffer and close friend that the plan is for Jay Wright to rest and likely do television. He will be highly coveted in the broadcasting space by all networks who cover the sport.

Villanova also announced it hired Fordham head coach Kyle Neptune to take over for Wright.

While it seems like a sudden move, especially in comparison to the yearlong retirement tour from Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Matt Norlander of CBS Sports reported that Wright was "privately weighing this for months."

He ends his tenure as one of the best college basketball coaches of his generation.

Prior to Villanova, Wright coached at Hofstra from 1994-95 through 2000-01 and won two America East Conference regular-season titles and two AEC conference tournament titles while making the NCAA men's basketball tournament twice.

Hofstra has not been to the Big Dance since and hadn't been there since the 1976-77 season prior to Wright's time with the program.

Yet he will be best remembered for his time at Villanova when he went 520-197 with two national championships, four Final Four appearances, eight regular-season conference crowns and five conference tournament titles.

Wright coached five consensus All-Americans with the Wildcats in Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Scottie Reynolds, Randy Foye and Allan Ray, and Brunson is a key piece for an NBA playoff team this season.

The bar is quite high for Neptune, who was with Fordham for just the 2021-22 season and went 16-16.

Yet he is familiar with the Villanova program and Wright's success considering he was an assistant coach for the Wildcats for eight seasons before accepting the head-coaching position with the Rams.

"During his time at Villanova, Kyle has demonstrated all the qualities you want to see in a young coach—commitment, passion, and the ability to communicate with young people," Wright previously said of his assistant. "He is a well-rounded and talented young coach who we are thrilled to have with us."

He is back with the Wildcats in a headlining role now.